The purpose of this article is to assist executives and managers in evaluating themselves as leaders and to describe how they can improve their value in the workplace. One of the best ways to do this is by testing their current environment by the use of a very meaningful questionnaire. Following is a simple list of questions in which you can test yourself. It is believed any individual who oversees others, and has a sound grip on what is going on at their place of business, should be able to answer these questions easily.
These questions are based on a very simple preface: how can we (management), help them (employees), do their jobs right the first time. The answer is, we have to ask them … and we have to listen to them … and respond to them (even though this may be difficult).
If every leader would adhere to this philosophy, the workplace would be a happier and more productive venue to go to each day … from the chief executive … to the proverbial ‘lowest individual on the totem pole’.
The term ‘chief executive’ is instead of many titles that can be assigned to the highest-ranking individual in authority at any one location or operation, depending on how your company is organized. You most certainly know who that individual is where you work, and if it is indeed you, then the most important thing for you to be thinking about while reading the following questionnaire, is how might any of your subordinates respond to these same questions?
Here is a list of questions that you must ask yourself, and answer honestly, regarding your workplace:
- Is there a ‘horizontal’ or ‘vertical’ style of management in place? Do you as chief executive count on the staff to know what is going on, or is there a communication link directly from you … to every individual in your organization … and back to you again?
- Are meetings taking place on a regularly scheduled basis … only on a staff level, or from the top to the bottom of your organization?
- How well informed are rank-and-file employees regarding day-to-day operations … and do you feel that is of any importance to them?
- Is there any kind of ‘favoritism’ being carried on anywhere in your workplace … especially if unknown to you?
- Is there any kind of ‘intimidation’ being carried on anywhere in your workplace… especially if unknown to you?
- Is there any kind of’ harassment’ (unlawful or otherwise) being carried on anywhere in your workplace… especially if unknown to you?
- Do all employees have the proper tools at all times for them to do what is expected of them?
- Are departmental heads, supervisors, and rank-and-file getting along and working together as a team to meet the company objectives?
- Do you as an executive feel you and your staff have a handle on the pulse of the organization … and how do you think your staff and hourly workers would answer?
- As a leader in your place of work, do you feel you would get an honest answer if you asked a subordinate a controversial question?
What did your answers reveal to you? If you are like most leaders who go through this exercise, you may have discovered that you do not know what is going on in your workplace, or at the very least, you do not know as much as you think you SHOULD know … or you would like to know. Do you know why most leaders do not know? Because they do not ask, and therefore they do not listen to, the right people.
WHO ARE THE ‘RIGHT’ PEOPLE?
Do you believe you and your fellow staff executives know what is happening every hour of every day in your workplace? Do you visit each day out on the factory floor; in your warehouse; in your vault; in each office department; in each classroom; in each lab; in each hospital ward; out on the site; out on the tarmac? If you (and/or your staff) truly believe you have a “good feeling” of what is going on (as so many leaders interviewed did), would any of you know how to measure and test the validity of that “feel”? Even if your profits were increasing, would you be aware (and you should) of where money was still being wasted, and where inefficiencies were still pulling your company down?
My experience has found that rank-and-file employees usually seem to be the only ones aware of such hidden costs because hardly anyone of real importance ever takes the time to ask them.
“BUSINESS AS USUAL DOESN’T WORK ANYMORE”
You NEED to set up a system of communicating with all employees to learn how to make effective, yet easy-to-implement, improvements now. CAN YOU HONESTLY SAY YOU KNOW ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON AT YOUR WORKPLACE? Executives and business owners who leave this concept out of their lives might find themselves looking for work later on. There are several financial and global reasons why “business as usual” does not work anymore. “Lifetime employment” and “guaranteed pensions” are things of the past. Entire industries have disappeared, not because something better came along and replaced them, but because some foreign country can do it cheaper. So why mention businesses going overseas and industries disappearing? A big reason is lack of communication – solid, good business communication with a raised awareness of needs, legitimate complaints, and how to address them.
The results of implementing a process that allows for communication from the top to the bottom of an organization can be extremely rewarding, and the results may even be astounding! Such a process will have a profound influence on everything that everyone around you does each day. The natural fallout will be better ways to do things, improved efficiency, and higher profitability. Executives and business owners who leave this process out of their lives might find themselves looking for work later on. There are several financial and global reasons why “business as usual” does not work anymore. “Lifetime employment” and “guaranteed pensions” are things of the past. Entire industries have disappeared, not because something better came along and replaced them, but because some foreign country can do it cheaper. So why mention businesses going overseas and industries disappearing? A big reason is lack of communication … solid good business communication with a raised awareness of needs, legitimate complaints, and how to address them.
ONE-ON-ONE COMMUNICATION WORKS
It has been proven time and again to many executives that whoever sets up a horizontal style of communication in their system, will know more about what is happening at that place of business than anyone else there. It will work in any business environment, from manufacturing & warehousing – to banking & finance – to education & healthcare – to home building & insurance – to high-tech & non-profit – to major international airlines & government. Yet there is but one basic thing to learn: executive leaders do not know all they should know about what is going on in their place of business until they set up a process of communication that allows everyone to be heard, and to provide input and suggestions for correcting whatever might be wrong.
-With an ever-increasing amount of competition in just about every business or industry, the last thing you and your company needs is a group of unhappy workers … or, for that matter, a disgruntled management team. In addition, you can see “Made in China” stamped on just about anything you can buy here in the good old USA. Moreover, did you know this? More people in China study English than there are people in the United States; and if millions of English-speaking Chinese, with substantially cheaper manufacturing costs, can ship directly from there via the Internet, you have to know what that will mean to future jobs here.
WHAT IS HORIZONTAL MANAGEMENT AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO KNOW?
Many of the leaders that have requested my help have been more qualified than me, with substantial credentials, most with MBAs, some from distinguished universities, all with many years of experience in their fields. Nevertheless, great majorities of those counseled were so self-centered and had such a high opinion of their abilities; they believed they knew all they needed to know.
Are you one of these leaders? Do you believe you and your fellow staff executives know what is happening every hour of every day in your workplace? Do you visit each day out on the factory floor; in your warehouse; in your vault; in each office department; in each classroom; in each lab; in each hospital ward; out on the site; out on the tarmac? Even if your profits were increasing, would you be aware of (and you should) where money was still being wasted and inefficiencies still existing?
A horizontal style of managing is an improved communication tool that results in management, as well as rank-and-file, becoming more aware of what is going on, and having a better understanding of each other’s problems. Once you know where problems exist, you can get to the root of their cause and take corrective action to fix them.
HOW DO WE COMMUNICATE HORIZONTALLY?
The way to do this is to meet regularly, with each department being represented in some manner, to discuss what is happening each day in that particular department. It all begins by asking the department representatives, “What can management do to help you to do your jobs?” The responses can range from predictable to startling – from employees not having the right tools to work with; to not being properly trained; to not being allotted enough time to do a job; to not being treated fairly; to being discriminated against; to being harassed; to the existence of favoritism – all of these may be legitimate reasons why they are not able to do what we expect of them. Moreover, and of utmost importance, upper management may not be aware of any of this.
The leader of these meetings (an unbiased project leader appointed only by the chief executive) should be a neutral party, having no authority over any attendant, nor being subordinate to a common superior of anyone in the group. No departmental supervision should ever be present at these meetings unless invited by the department representatives, or the project leader with the permission of the representatives. The purpose of this is to eliminate any possible intimidation on the part of a higher authority that may be against any phase of this concept. It is essential to record, and then post, the “minutes” from each meeting in a conspicuous place in each department. The purpose of this is so all employees from that particular department have an opportunity to know what was discussed at their meeting.
It is extremely important to not record names in the minutes. Your primary focus should be to arrive at the root cause of problems and fix them, never to ‘target’ a scapegoat. The focus should never be to offend anyone, get anyone in trouble, make anyone uncomfortable, or create negative feelings.
You must face issues brought forward no matter how difficult they may be. If you think some are legitimate, but you are not able to do anything about them due to corporate or legal restrictions, then you must be honest. The project leader takes these responses back to the next scheduled departmental meeting, and the entire practice continues on … over and over again. The key to success is that it must become a perpetual way to run your business.
To summarize, as this process goes forward it will only be successful if the people see management listening, caring, taking hold, and trying to improve wherever they can. The natural fallout from such a process will be better ways to do things, improved efficiency, and attitudes that are more positive. Moreover … and this point should never be forgotten … your increased profits, raised employee morale, improved productivity, and rapidly contagious smiles on everyone’s faces, simply become added gifts.
I would like to introduce you to a system that is so practical and successful, that it is simply a must-read for anyone who leads others. This enlightening new way of communicating is currently saving many companies, from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars annually that were previously being wasted … over and over again. Once you have reviewed this concise and easy-to-understand manual, you will learn things about your company, and no doubt about yourself, that you previously were not aware of. It took a quarter of a century to set into action, expand, fine-tune, and nurture … and now it is finally here … the secrets of how to perpetually run a successful business. Learn about a style of management that is so simple and so effective, yet before this, was hardly being used anywhere in the world. This invaluable report, which easily describes how “Awareness” can be used most effectively, was written especially to help those individuals that aspire to be better at any level of management, in this new challenging world of free enterprise.